From Left to Right: DTI 4A Regional Director, Marilou Toledo, Mr. Cholo Quiaonza of John’s Gourmet Kitchen, and Ms. Laura Jaraplasan, Senior Trade and Industry Specialist at DTI Laguna.
From Left to Right: DTI 4A Regional Director, Marilou Toledo, Mr. Cholo Quiaonza of John’s Gourmet Kitchen, and Ms. Laura Jaraplasan, Senior Trade and Industry Specialist at DTI Laguna.

Mr. John Lloyd “Cholo” Quiaonza, owner of Spoonful® Desserts under his company John’s Gourmet Kitchen, was not always as successful as he is today. In fact, Cholo’s rising success today is a product of his hard work, perseverance, and of course his past failures. This is his story.

Young Entrepreneur

At a young age, Cholo already knew he wanted to be an entrepreneur. While he was taking up Human Resource Management, he started selling flavored yema and pastillas to his friends and classmates.

When he graduated, he first worked at a hotel. He was driven by his desire to learn about the overall operations, to observe the way things are run, and most importantly, to also study how to provide excellent customer service. During his time there, Cholo recounts that he almost enjoyed being showered with more work. To him, this meant learning as much as he can, as fast as he can.

Then, Cholo quit his job in the hotel to work for our famous local fast-food chain, Jollibee. He wanted to learn about good manufacturing practices, the HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point), and how to run a restaurant.

In the quest for continuous learning, he then proceeded to take a job in sales. Here, he learned the basics of selling product to clients.

High Hopes

Once he felt ready to venture into his first business, Cholo quit his job in sales to try his luck in the food industry. With his savings, he put up a small street food stall in the market near his home.

His business did so well that he immediately decided to start his own restaurant. All his savings and earnings from the food stall went into starting his all-day breakfast restaurant.

A Taste of Failure

While the first three months of his new business were great, the succeeding three months were devastating. The sales he was getting just weren’t enough to cover the bills, the rent, and the other costs. Just after six months, he had to close his business.

All his hard-earned money was gone along with his restaurant. This was also around the same time when broke up with his then long-term girlfriend. Cholo felt depressed and he could not seem to accept that he failed.

Getting Back Up

With the help of motivational movies and inspirational videos, he slowly started to remember his big dream. To create his food empire.

After watching many videos on people selling cheesecakes in jars, he thought to himself, “Why not put my favorite leche flan in a jar?” And indeed, that’s what he did.

After a series of failed recipes and scrapped ideas, he finally created his current product, the flavored leche flan, Spoonful® Desserts. He started selling these to small bazaars and eventually, his flavored flans led him to join the Association of Laguna Food Processors (ALAFOP).

After a few months, he also introduced Sarwrap® Salad Wraps and Sandwiches which serve customers who are more health-conscious, the elderly, or people on diets.

Now, he owns Don Juan’s Cakes and Pastries Manufacturing with his wife Gladys. They recently opened their café Juan’s Deli Café in Cabuyao City.

Mentor Me

Through the assistance of ALAFOP and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), John’s gourmet kitchen is now bigger and better.

With the help of DTI’s Kapatid Mentor Me (KMME) Program, Cholo continued to learn through successful and experienced mentors. From the many learning sessions on different topics including Business Planning, Business Law, Business Taxation, and others, Cholo continues to grow as an entrepreneur and incorporates his learnings into further improving his company. Joining ALAFOP has helped him reach new markets and gain more customers and showcase his products to more trade fairs and bazaars.

Spoonful® Desserts now comes in seven different flavors and now has a larger version which he hopes to sell to restaurants and fiestas.

The End in Mind

Asked what his future dreams and plans for John’s Gourmet Kitchen are, Cholo passionately shares his dream to create a food park featuring all his products including Spoonful® Desserts and other future products he wishes to create.

For Spoonful® Desserts, Cholo hopes to be able to distribute to convenience stores like 7-Eleven and Ministop. He also wants to sell to hotels and restaurants.

As for Human Resource, he plans to hire Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) graduates not only to make sure he hires trained personnel but also to give job opportunities to fresh graduates.

ABOVE: Interview with GoNegosyo sa Radyo co-hosted by then-Senator Bam Aquino.
ABOVE: Interview with GoNegosyo sa Radyo co-hosted by then-Senator Bam Aquino.

Mentee to Mentor

Almost three years after graduating from the KMME Program, Cholo is now testing the waters of mentoring as a way of giving back. According to him, the KMME Program helped him grow his enterprise and grow as an entrepreneur himself. Recently, he’s been invited to give an inspirational talk on the Entrepreneurial Mindset for the SPES (Special Program for the Employment of Students) beneficiaries of Cabuyao City. He was also invited as Guest Speaker at Laguna State Polytechnic University to talk on the topic of Consumerism. During the Provincial Launch of GoNegosyo-on-Wheels, he was also invited to mentor on the topic of Marketing.

Aside from this, he has also been invited to radio programs such as GoNegosyo sa Radio DZRH and Kalye Negosyo DZJV. He was also featured in the TV Program Unang Hirit during the launching of Pistang Kapihan sa Cabuyao.

He also founded the Young Entrepreneurs Society of Cabuyao together with the Local Government Unit of Cabuyao City. This organization aims to give a venue for Cabuyao Entrepreneurs to share their ideas and promote entrepreneurship in the city.

He was also enrolled in the One Town, One Product (OTOP) Project of DTI which aims to capacitate the “OTOPreneurs” to innovate and produce market-ready products and services.

ABOVE: Mr. Cholo Quiaonza at Cabuyao City’s Food Park

Cholo credits a lot of his business’s success to the power of e-Commerce. When his first business failed, he switched his business entirely online. He optimized the use of social media platforms to market Spoonful® Desserts. Soon, he was earning more than he did when he had a physical store.

He was bringing home P40,000 monthly and then gained five resellers. This was a great chance for him as his online business lets him operate with minimal overhead costs. In the second year, his income was already averaging P200,000 per month and gaining even more resellers within CALABARZON. His business then had four employees.

The COVID-19 Effect

Like many businesses in our country, Cholo’s business also suffered greatly due to the enforcement of lockdowns. After two weeks without operation and sales, he started thinking of ways to make money for his family and employees.

This is when he started Juan’s Stop Online Sari-Sari Store. He knew that there was a huge market for this business since people couldn’t go out and were hesitant to leave their houses for necessities.

By June and July of 2020, his online sari-sari store was already earning P2,500,000 and was providing work for 10 employees. He credits e-Commerce for his wide market reach. Now he has more resellers than ever, providing job opportunities and ways for our fellowmen to earn money during this pandemic.

From the Man with a (Flavored) Flan

For anyone who’s thinking to venture into entrepreneurship, Cholo has the following tips: First, have the right entrepreneurial mindset. Second, find your passion and love what you’re doing. Third, if you fail, just get back up. As one of his mentors Mr. Clarke Nebrao says, “Fail fast so you can succeed faster,” and as one of his inspirations, Jack Ma said, “Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.” Next, nurture your customers. After all, word of mouth is the best kind of promotion. He also wants us to remember that “network will always be greater than net worth.” Lastly, maximize the use of social media to promote your product. ♦

Date of Release: 8 March 2021